Absurd Person Singular

Written by Alan Ayckbourn

Thurs 5th December - Sat 7th December & Tues 9th December - Sat 14th December 1985

Directed by Jo German

Jane and Sydney are holding a party to impress their better-off influential friends - but someone has forgotten the tonic water... A Black comedy, set on three consecutive Christmas Eves, tracing the changing fortunes of three couples. This well-known and popular comedy by Alan Ayckbourn throws new light on the pre-Christmas-drinks situation. WARNING: this play can seriously damage your acceptance of invitations to 'pop round' for Christmas drinks

AuthorAlan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn (b 1939)

Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most prolific and widely performed of living English language playwrights and a highly regarded theatre director. He has written 74 full length plays and has won Olivier, Tony and Moliere Awards for his work.

Ayckbourn was born in Hampstead and wrote his first play at prep school when he was about 10. After leaving school at 17, he began a temporary job at the Scarborough Library Theatre. In 1957, he married Christine Roland, another member of the company, and his first two plays were written jointly with her under the pseudonym of "Roland Allen". They had two sons, however the marriage had difficulties which eventually led to their separation in 1971. Neither he nor Christine sought a divorce for the next thirty years and it was only in 1997 that they formally divorced after which Ayckbourn married Heather Stoney.

In 1962 he became Associate Director of the Victoria Theatre Stoke-on-Trent and two years later he was a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in Leeds. Ayckbourn established himself as a popular playwright in the the 1960s achieving West End successes with 'Relatively Speaking' and 'How The Other Half Loves' In the 70s he returned to Scarborough as the Director of Productions.

In 2007, following a stroke announced he would step down from his then current role as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Ayckbourn, however, continues to write and direct his own work at the theatre and in 2009, his contribution to theatre was recognised by the Olivier's Special Award.

PlayAbsurd Person Singular

'Absurd Person Singular' was written in 1972 and is divided into three acts. It documents the changing fortunes of three married couples and each act takes place at a Christmas celebration at one of the couples' homes on successive Christmas Eves. The play premiered in Scarborough in June 1972, and received the Evening Standard Best Comedy Award for its London debut the following year. It has also enjoyed a number of West End revivals.

The couples involved are the lower-class Hopcrofts; their bank manager and his wife (the Brewster-Wrights) and their architect neighbour (Geoffrey Jackson) with a suicidal wife (Eva). Running like a darker thread through the wild comedy of behind-the-scenes disasters at Christmas parties is the story of the advance of the Hopcrofts and the declines of the others. It is a farcical tragedy in which death and destruction are never far away; a comedy which looks at the darker side of human nature.

The Bench Production

Absurd Person Singular poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Jane HopcroftNicola Scadding
Sidney HopcroftPeter Holding
Ronald Brewster-WrightPete Woodward
Marion Brewster-WrightIngrid Corrigan
Eva JacksonJude Salmon
Geoffrey JacksonAlan Jenkins
Dick PotterBen Payne
Lottie PotterRobbie Cattermole


Director Jo German
Stage Manager Ben Payne
Assistant Stage Manager Colin Hardy
Andrew Napier
Robbie Cattermole
Lighting Richard Stacey
Jacquie Penrose
Sound Damon Wakelin
Poster Design Jane Hart
Set Construction David Brown
Bill Bickers
Publicity Clawson Morris
Jacquie Penrose
Isobel D'Arcy
Photographs Chris Shaw
Front of House John Bohun


The NewsJanice Macfarlane

Absurd, but very funny

Christmas Eve drinkies can lead to all kinds of domestic disasters and absurdities, as shown in Alan Ayckbourn's 'Absurd Person Singular'. Ayckbourn's comic dissection of Home Counties manners and neuroses has the precision of an electric carving knife and is staged at the Old Town Hall, Havant, by the Bench Theatre until Saturday week. Set in three couple's kitchens on successive Christmas Eves, the show opened in a bare, well-scrubbed interior with excellent performances by Nicola Scadding and Pete Holding as the poisonous up-an-coming Hopcrofts.

In the chaotic, untidy but trendy kitchen of the Jacksons in Act 2, Jude Salmon's silent, suicidal Eva having her pre-divorce trauma was even more poignant and funny against the strained cheer and bustle of the well-meaning neighbours. Pete Woodward and Ingrid Corrigan were spot-on depicting the well-heeled but emotionally empty lives of the Brewster-Wrights whose tasteful kitchen is the setting for a manic finale. The ensemble work extremely well together, though Alan Jenkins isn't comfortable as the architect Geoffrey Jackson. He plays it all right, he just doesn't look the part. Ben Payne's backstage crew get top marks for their fantastic changes to make the same basic kitchen distinctive fro the three separate households. Jo German directs with a fine eye for detail.

The News, 6th December 1985

Production Photographs